The role of Captain Cummings — — in Mae West's play "Diamond Lil" — — required a handsome, charismatic man with stage training. For the Broadway cast, Mae chose Curtis Cooksey, who was born on 9 December 1891 in Indiana, as her leading man.
• • Set in a Bowery dive known as Suicide Hall, "Diamond Lil" debuted at the Royale Theatre [242 West 45th Street, NYC] on 9 April 1928. It was a box office success as well as a favorite with drama critics.
• • Since 1916, the 25-year-old actor began winning leading roles on The Great White Way. Curtis Cooksey had starred in over a dozen productions before stepping into his Salvation Army uniform to make an impact on a beautiful saloon singer, a vivacious blonde bombshell who told him, "Diamonds is my career."
• • Since 1911, Curtis Cooksey had also been cast in silent films [debut: "Taming a Tyrant"] and he made a smooth transition into talkies.
• • In the film version of Mae's play, Cary Grant played Captain Cummings [a.k.a. "The Hawk"].
• • After a long career in Tinseltown, Cooksey contracted cancer. He committed suicide in Hollywood on 19 April 1962.
• • Come up and see Mae every day online: http://MaeWest.blogspot.com/
• • Photo: • • Mae West • • as "Diamond Lil" • • 1928 • •